The Arizona Trail
I first heard about the Arizona Trail on my first thru-hike in 2015. Since then, its been on my list of trails to do. Though I never really explored the idea until this year. As a precursor to my second attempt of the Continental Divide, I decided to spend early spring hiking the 800 mile trail from Mexico to Utah. Beginning down at the border, I ascended up from 5,900ft to the 9,466ft summit of Miller Peak. A tough first few miles but with a view that cast out over southern Arizona and the Sky Islands that lay ahead.
The Arizona Trail makes quick work of the Sky Islands, ascending up steep, rocky forest roads and swiftly descending them after a short rest on a narrow saddle. In a mere 450 miles the trail traverses over the high pine covered sky islands, crosses low deserts sprawling with huge Saguaro Cactus and steps up onto the Kaibab Plateau before approaching the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It continues down into the canyon and crossing the Colorado River and up and out onto the North Rim as it continues to ascend the 9,000+ ft plateau, gracefully finishing at the Utah/Arizona state line.
March is typically an unusual time to start a northbound attempt of the Arizona Trail. But the preceding winter left little snow at the higher elevations and little water at the lower, so this was a great time to thru-hike this trail. I admit this is an ambitious way to start my 2018 hiking season but it will be one that I will never forget. Arizona was a bit more challenging than I expected, which worried me about the long months ahead. Towards the end of the trail, as with most trails, I reminisced about the next trail. With every mile closer to the end, I began to get those pre-hike jitters of starting a long trail. I made great friends on this journey, most are heading home or to a new job after reaching Utah. But my summer is just getting started. I feel strong and confident about this year, already acclimated to the trail, ready to climb the mountains that I’ve been dreaming of since last summer. I do feel a sense of vulnerability and loneliness starting another long trail alone, not knowing anyone and going to places I haven’t been before. But I always start these things alone and end up with life long friends. So here we go again.